Chewing the cud of God’s word

In Psalm 1:2 we are told about a person who is blessed by God. This is a person “whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

But what does it mean to “meditate”?

This word can make us think of some sort of eastern spiritual practice. But that’s not what is envisioned here.

In biblical usage it means to repeatedly go over something in one’s mind. Robert Alter explains that the Hebrew word for meditate is hagah, meaning “a low muttering sound.”*

Picture someone muttering Scripture to themselves as they go about their day. What’s more is that the person “delights” in doing this. What do you delight in? A nice walk with a friend, accomplishing something on your bucket lest, or seeing your team advance to the second round of the playoffs?

The person who is both blessed and committed to living faithfully before God learns to delight in God’s teachings and meditates on them as they about their day.

Someone recently sent me a video of a farmer explaining how cows chew the cud. Larger teeth form at the base of the jaw. Cows chew the cud with those bigger teeth. (Cud is partially digested food which a cow has already swallowed once but brings back up into their mouth to chew again.)

The farmer then compared that to chewing on God’s word.** Listening or reading is step one. Going over it again and again should be what happens next.

Brothers and sisters, let’s chew the cud of God’s word!

Practically speaking, this could include reading the Bible, studying it, sitting under biblical preaching, talking about insights with others, seeking out theologically sound podcasts, listening to music that honours God’s teachings, and memorizing important sections.

All of this doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It’s simply about taking practical steps to immerse yourself in God’s teachings one day at a time.

Let’s chew the cud of God’s word.


–*Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (W.W. Norton, 2007).

–**The video I mentioned was from an Instagram reel posted on April 19, 2023 by @rutherfordcattle

–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week and returns on May 8, 2023.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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